Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

CLP Holds Founding Congress


First Published: People’s Tribune, Vol. 1, No. 1, September 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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An enthusiastic, united founding Congress of the Communist Labor Party of the USNA was held over the Labor Day weekend in Chicago. Such a Congress could only be the result of years of difficult organizational, ideological and theoretical struggle. The struggle for this principled unity really began after the 16th Convention of the Communist Party (USA) held in 1956. Since that date there has been an unbroken line of organizational efforts that testify to the determination of the revolutionaries to unite on the basis of Marxism-Leninism.

Over 500 delegates attended the Congress. They represented all sections of the USNA, including a fraternal delegation from the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Socialist Party. All the various nationalities were represented:

The Eskimo, Hawaiian, Philippino, Negro and Indian peoples and the Mexican national minority and others.

The whole range of revolutionary experience was represented and helped to guide the Congress. In attendance were over 30 comrades with more than 25 years in the Marxist movement. Several had been members of various national committees of the CPUSA and one had been a delegate to the Comintern. The oldest participating comrade had joined the revolutionary movement in 1909.

Above all, the Congress was a proletarian Congress. The vast majority of the delegates were from the shops, mills and mines. The Party Program and Resolutions reflected the breadth of vision that only the proletariat is capable of. The main thrust of the Program and Resolutions was for a united front of struggle of the working class from below, basing our efforts on unity with and support to the Negro Nation and Latin America. (The Congress documents are being printed and will be available through the People’s Tribune.)

Each comrade who attended the Congress was made aware that we are at the brink of some important historic moments. As with all junctures in history, the opportunities and the dangers are great.

Success in our movement is going to demand that every comrade, individually, as well as, through their collectives seize every opportunity to display Bolshevik individual initiative. Our Party must become a party of fighting leaders, or it will not be a communist party at all.

The Congress completed the task of building the essential form of our Party. The task that faces us now is to build our Party into the vanguard of the proletariat.

It is clear that in order to move forward rapidly and as a compact group, we must have identity of views on what the immediate tasks are and generally how they are to be accomplished. First of all, we should agree that our Congress radically changed the political environment in which we operate. It is clear that the formulations and methods of the past period will not apply in a qualitatively different situation. At the ending of an old qualitative development and the beginning of a new guidelines, rules, attitudes, etc., for a while are stood on their head. What we are saying is that the rules for building a league, study circle or study action group cannot apply in the building of the Party. In order to develop under the new conditions it is absolutely necessary to examine every proposition that was accepted as verified truth in a previous period.

In this light, we must re-examine our whole attitude toward recruiting. In a previous period our outlook correctly was “to accept only the advanced of the advanced”, and then nine times out of ten they were required to become developed Marxist-Leninists before they could be considered for membership. The outlook conformed to the task of gathering together the conscious elements to form the Party. Is that outlook correct today? No, it is not. In order for the Party to become the vanguard, it must recruit into its rnnks the vanguard elements – that is to say, the practical leaders of the proletariat.

Here we are not referring to the trade union hacks or the various mis-leaders – we are talking about the thousands and millions of rank and file leaders of not only the unions, but the practical workers in the shops, the floor leaders of the working class organizations. Any comrade involved in the practical struggle fully understands that these vanguard elements are ideologically separated from communism and, in fact, many workers leading militant struggles are quite divorced from politics in general. Therefore, to have the position of recruiting only the workers with ideological and theoretical development means not to recruit.

Our Party, like all parties, must follow the objective rules – that is, if a workers supports the Party Program, will submit to democratic centralism, join a Party organization and support the Party financially , he is eligible for membership. Does this mean that we should use the CPUSA’s approach of recruiting off the streets? No, it does not. Recruiting like everything in our Party, is a collective concern. The contacts of the comrades should be discussed in the units and there the decision is made whether or not to recruit.

While we are calling for recruitment on a large scale, we are also insisting that recruits represent at least potential leadership, and that we still pay attention to the question of quality. There still tends to be some confusion about this relation between quantity and quality. These are not separate concepts. What has to be struggled for is a quantitative development of our quality. In a few words we want to develop from a very small, but very good Party, to a very big and very good Party. But this can be done only if each and every comrade pays strict attention to the qualitative aspects of our quantitative growth.

We want all the comrades to fully understand that the life of the Party is in danger. The danger arises out of the pull backwards by the political struggle itself. The weight of habit, isolation from the centers of the class struggle, backwardness in the political struggle all work to keep us from completing the leap.

Politics implies maneuvering and maneuvering demands reserves. The small size of our Party precludes any real maneuvering. We are calling upon the comrades to double the size of our Party in a very short period. This is the only way to resolve the contradiction between our organizational tasks and our organizational strength.

Ever since the October Revolution, the Marxist-Leninist parties have had to struggle with the petty bourgeois idea that a highly disciplined small party is the revolutionary ideal. This, of course, is a petty bourgeois view of the socialist revolution as a conspiracy instead of a social revolution led by the proletariat. These would be conspirators point to the Bolshevik Party (at the time of the revolution the Bolsheviks had a membership of 600,000) as such a small party. Lenin replied, “In Russia we were a small party, but we had with us in addition the majority of the Soviets of Workers and Peasants Deputies throughout the country. We had with us almost half of the Army which numbered at least 10 million men.”

It is clear that a “small” party under the conditions of such mass ties does not exist anywhere in the world today – certainly not in the USNA.

No, Comrades, we need a big party. We need a big party because we live in a big country with a big working class. Without establishing ties with the entire social movement and winning over the majority of the working class to our cause, talk about socialism is simply ”left” wing foolishness. Only a big party can accomplish these tasks.

One of the contradictions of party development is the fact that we are short of people, yet the country is full of people. This contradiction can be resolved only by build our Party, i.e., by recruiting the leading members of the proletariat and by Bolshevizing them in the process of the struggle.

Another concept that we must struggle with is: From which class should we recruit? In the past period, we correctly insisted that all our members either be workers or that they join the working class. But this policy was necessary to give us the proletarian base that would guarantee the line of our Party. Now, however, we are ushering in a new period of party building. The present demands that we send our cadre in all directions and into all classes. We absolutely have to build a communist student movement, as well as, consolidate a movement of the working class youth. We absolutely must recruit from the broad sections of the intelligentsia. At the same time, we have to recruit in such proportions as to guarantee that the decisive control of our Party is in the hands of the proletarians, and especially in the hands of the proletarians from the nationalities and the national minorities.

The question then arises: How do we guarantee that we are recruiting from the vanguard? The answer has to be that the majority of our recruiting should be done in the course of struggle. Those workers who come forward in class battles, strikes, demonstrations, protests, etc. prove by their actions that they are part of the vanguard and they should be recruited. The real problem is this: We cannot hope to recruit from the vanguard unless we are in the thick of the struggle – unless we are providing leadership to the existing struggle. It is clear that in this stage, deep involvement in the struggle and recruiting are inseparable. It will be shown that only through our efforts to create a united front of struggle from below can we really recruit.

There is no question that we are on the road. The class is beginning to stir again. Our Party has a structure that has been tested in decades of class battles. Our Party Program conforms to the crying needs of the political struggle. Our cadre are dedicated, mentally and physically strong and eager for battle. Overcoming this current contradiction in our work will allow for another big leap forward. At all times and in every struggle our leading slogan should be: BUILD THE PARTY!